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Topic: How good a keyboard player is mike?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
ThisName Offline




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Posted: Nov. 09 2005, 10:32

Hey, I know mike plays a bit of everything, but was just wondering if anyone know's how good he is on keyboard? It just strikes me that his early albums, especially incantations, has some develish keyboard parts?

Anyone agree?


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stevenmd779 Offline




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Posted: Nov. 09 2005, 10:56

I don't think he ever admitted to being a real good keyboard player, although that depends on what he considers good. Top of the Morning is probobly his hardest piece, and I think I could learn it in a month or so, and I've only been playing for a year. I'm sure he could play something more difficult, but he doesn't want to take the time.

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Korgscrew Offline




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Posted: Nov. 09 2005, 21:01

Some of those parts on Incantations were recorded at half speed, just like he did with Blue Peter (perhaps you've even seen the feature the BBC did of him recording that tune, where he explains that).

Away from that, it's difficult to tell really. When he recorded Tubular Bells, Tom Newman had quite a bit of difficulty getting Mike to play the piano in time, and of course on Hergest Ridge there's a pretty stuttery part in Part 2 (just before the thunderstorm section), which might suggest he was still having trouble (though there's been some discussion about whether it's deliberate or not).

His piano playing does really come to the fore on Top Of The Morning, and I'd say it's nicely played (some have accused him of having sampled it, but I hear no evidence to suggest that). It's not hugely complex, but I'd say it's a nice piece of playing. I do think he can make a piano sound musical, when he wants (which is what it's about, isn't it?).

Whether his not recording more complex things is because he doesn't want to take the time, I'm not sure. When I play live shows as guitarist with rock groups, it can be great fun to just play flat-out and go as fast as I can. Everyone enjoys it, because of the spirit of the whole performance. When someone's sat listening to a studio recording in his/her living room, the spirit of both performer and listener is rather different. I can think of one track in particular that I did with a group, which had basically been written to give me a bit of space to play something wild at the end of the show - a very excessive solo all over the place type thing. When I came to make a recording of that, the same approach just didn't work - there was something missing. I ended up simplifying it a lot, and I think it worked better because of that. That tends to be my approach with recording in general, and may well be Mike's too - to play something that fits the recording, rather than just to show I can play complex things.
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Tati The Sentinel Offline




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Posted: Nov. 09 2005, 21:32

Mike is not and he's not trying to be like keyboard wizards like Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson.

In the 70's, Mike's use of keyboards were not that much, getting bigger on Incantations,for example. In the 80's, it was very much keyboard-oriented(I'd say Fairlight-oriented) in terms of creating the atmosphere of most tunes.

90's and 2000's, the pattern of using keyboards to create an atmosphere still continues,but some tunes more keyboard-oriented than others...


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raven4x4x Offline




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Posted: Nov. 09 2005, 21:59

Mike may not be able to play fast and fancy like Rick Wakeman, but his music isn't about that. When Mike plays the keyboards, more often than not they sound good. For what he does with them, I'd say he's a good keyboardist.

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The Man who is He.. Offline




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Posted: Nov. 09 2005, 22:29

Even when he just plinks at a piano like in TSODE, he puts such emotion into it. It's so tender, i'm such a hot tempered person at times, and I listen to his music to calm down and slow down, sometimes. His piano work allways makes me feel more human after a bad day at the office.
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Spak Offline




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Posted: Nov. 09 2005, 23:25

Yeah. I mean, he doesn't play the piano as good as some other instruments but his piano parts go so great with his other instruments. I definitely don't think it would sound great alone, but it adds a beautiful touch to his style.
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Guru Meditation Offline




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Posted: Nov. 06 2006, 16:19

"Anyone could play the piano as well as I do" - Mike Oldfield
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Airborne Offline




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Posted: Nov. 06 2006, 16:46

There is a story that Martin Griffiths of Penrhos Court told when a male voice choir turned up at his restaurant. Mike was there and ended up playing the piano with them. His variation of chords led the choir a merry dance it would seem, I think it was down to frivolity rather than lack of knowledge.

All of his tunes are either derived from guitar or keyboard so I would say he can play the piano extremely well. Just listen to the opening of Tubular Bells recorded when he was 19.
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moonchildhippy Offline




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Posted: Nov. 06 2006, 19:46

Quote (Airborne @ Nov. 06 2006, 21:46)
There is a story that Martin Griffiths of Penrhos Court told when a male voice choir turned up at his restaurant. Mike was there and ended up playing the piano with them. His variation of chords led the choir a merry dance it would seem, I think it was down to frivolity rather than lack of knowledge.

That's an interesting story Airborne, I didn't know there was a piano in Penrhos Court. I can imagine much merriment and copious amounts of ale/cider being drunk that night :)  :D , how interesting it would have been to be an observer that night:cool: , Saying that if there's any merriment/frivolity to be had I'm willing to join in.

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SoimSandheaver Offline




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Posted: Nov. 07 2006, 17:48

Quote (Guru Meditation @ Nov. 06 2006, 21:19)
"Anyone could play the piano as well as I do" - Mike Oldfield

An uplifting thought from the man himself. I'll just have to keep at it. I'm not exactly the most musical person, though I endeavour to be so.

It doesn't help when my Dad's a great singer and a great guitarrist and does gigs at local pubs. It's also a little upsetting when your eldest sister teaches the flute in Scotland, your little sister is a wonderful oboeist (wish she'd play the oboe section in "Hergest Ridge" - she's good enough to do it!;) and my other sister is excellent on the clarinet. I've always wanted to play the saxophone. We did try to get lessons for the saxophone when the opprtunity arose, but for some reason, the teacher we were supposed to have never came. My dream to be musical disappeared in seconds...

So, everyone in my family, except for me, is musically minded. I'm just a listener. I do try to play the keyboard, I try very hard to play tunes, and I can only play very simple ones such as "Ode To Joy". When it comes to using chords, I fail very easily. I also try to play the guitar, with help from my Dad, but learning that "F" chord is making my say a lot of words that begin with the very same letter (mostly words such as "fudge", "flip" and the nasty one).

It's very hard to teach yourself, and when school is breathing down your neck with more work to give to you...and they actually expect you to do it!


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Morti Offline




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Posted: Nov. 08 2006, 21:06

Keep at it, dude. Guitar is hard at first but you become reasonably good quicker than you expect generally, it's one of the easier instruments to learn I think (yet one of the hardest to master, but worry about that when you get there).

Starting with Mike Oldfield stuff may be challenging, the way I learned was by being into James (mostly simple songs and chord structures) then later getting into Mike Oldfield and almost immediately becoming a better guitarist by trying more challenging things once I'd initially learned to play almost everything James have ever recorded. ;)


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Piltdownboy on horseback 22 Offline




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Posted: Nov. 10 2006, 13:59

Quote (Morti @ Nov. 08 2006, 21:06)
Starting with Mike Oldfield stuff may be challenging, the way I learned was by being into James (mostly simple songs and chord structures) then later getting into Mike Oldfield and almost immediately becoming a better guitarist by trying more challenging things once I'd initially learned to play almost everything James have ever recorded. ;)

I'm sorry, but which James do you mean??  :)

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Trinidad Offline




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Posted: Nov. 18 2006, 08:50

I'm not a musician, but when I see Mike playing the start of TBII in the premiere concert, he seems to be quite uncomfortable to me, as if he had to make an effort to play correctly. I've learned to play that piece, and doesn't seem to be so difficult (for an average player, I mean). Or maybe he was very nervous, or it was a cold night.
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Piltdownboy on horseback 22 Offline




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Posted: Nov. 18 2006, 08:54

I think he may not be the very good kind of player, but on that video he just seems very nervous, in the beginning...

So I think he can play it well, but that it was just cold and nerves...

;)


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jonnyw Offline




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Posted: Nov. 26 2006, 19:12

I think he simply has a Knack for diffrent instruments, something you cant explain that you might not be able to learn!

you do have a poit trinidad, he does look very uncomfortable. I always thought so and when i think about it, i think he simply has put his guitar knowledge into other instruments, which is waht i do and thus the only way i could make sense of it!!


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ThisName Offline




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Posted: Nov. 27 2006, 06:04

The opening to the TBII DVD is incredibly simple pianistically, but so bare, and it's the first thing the audience hears. I think I would be quite nervous playing that opening, because one little blemish on the note will be very apparent. Also, its the start of the concert, so I'm guessing its a combination of the show and the isolation of the first few bars. I think he probably is quite proficent on keyboard, although with a very individual playing technique, but essentially guitar is where he will comfortable in terms of live performing.

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trcanberra Offline




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Posted: Feb. 16 2008, 01:53

Quote (The Man who is He.. @ Nov. 09 2005, 22:29)
Even when he just plinks at a piano like in TSODE, he puts such emotion into it. It's so tender, i'm such a hot tempered person at times, and I listen to his music to calm down and slow down, sometimes. His piano work allways makes me feel more human after a bad day at the office.

I really love the piano in TSODE - and feel that Mike could play a little more than he does  ;)
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Sweetpea Offline




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Posted: Feb. 23 2008, 01:31

Quote (trcanberra @ Feb. 16 2008, 01:53)
I really love the piano in TSODE - and feel that Mike could play a little more than he does  ;)

TR, are you suggesting that Mike has been holding out on us?? I'm not sure that I could handle it if he were as great a pianist as he is a guitarist.


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Marky Offline




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Posted: Feb. 15 2017, 17:56

Since this thread, we've had his piano improvisation on the Deluxe Incantations. And now R2O is out, the keys are a bit submerged on that, but very effectively used.

One thing that puzzles me is this. When ever did Mike learn to play the piano AT ALL? Wasn't he busy with acoustic, bass, and electric guitars until he was 20? Then he suddenly pops up playing competent piano on TB. When did he learn it? Did anybody teach him?

It always make me curious. My own assumption is that he just taught himself based on having pianos around him while he was making all this music. Maybe David Bedford gave him some help too?

All supposition on my part. But I really love Mike's keyboards parts and wish he'd write something complex for a better pianist to play while he guitars to it.
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